At Mill Hill Chapel we observe several sacraments and offices.
For us a sacrament is understood as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Therefore many of our members and visitors find that our sacraments provide ritual and symbolism which helps them to mark special occasions, feel a sense of belonging in our religious community, and reinforce their own sense of spiritual health.
“… a sacrament is understood as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace“
Participating in our sacraments is a personal decision. No member or visitor of our chapel should ever feel obligated to participate in any ritual they feel no desire to be part of and you will not be looked down on for choosing to opt out. We are nonconformists after all!
As Unitarians we love to celebrate new life. Traditionally most Unitarians reject the doctrine of original sin. So while we often use water to welcome a child into the world and our community at Mill Hill we do not believe we are washing away sin but instead giving thanks for love and life.
“… Unitarians reject the doctrine of original sin”
This leaves a lot of scope for potential forms a Christening or Blessing at Mill Hill could take. Typically our minister or other celebrant in the congregation would come to an agreement with the parents of the child as to the form and content of the service.
Whilst not required for a Unitarian baptism, parents are able to invite close friends and relatives to act as godparents.
Adult baptisms are currently rare occasions in British Unitarianism, with children usually baptised within the first few weeks or months of life. However they are a pleasure to arrange.
As a Unitarian and Free Christian Church we are passionate about being a democratic community. Membership is the backbone of this democracy as it allows for full voting rights at congregational meetings and the opportunity to stand for election onto the chapel committee.
Although this might seem rather dry, our ideal of spiritual democracy is important to us as it safeguards the religious liberty of our members while allowing us to function as a cohesive community that can act together for the benefit of our local community.
“… spiritual democracy is important to us”
Our members also tend to contribute financially according to their means. However finance should never be a bar to membership.
Regular attenders at services are able to apply for membership after three months. After a successful application for membership, applicants are received into membership during Sunday Services at various points in the year and receive a certificate of membership from the minister and chair of the congregation as well as a well earned round of applause from all in attendance.
Mill Hill Chapel is licenced to host both same-sex and opposite-sex weddings. We also welcome couples who would prefer a blessing for their relationship without the legal aspects of marriage.
Most of the details of wedding services are free to be worked out between the couple and the minister or other celebrant provided by the congregation. In order to best serve the needs of the couple we do recommend that they attend a few church services so that they get a feel for our community and ethos. If a couple like the feel of the congregation we then progress to holding several consultations with the couple both jointly and separately. In these informal chats the minister or celebrant can make sure that everything the couple want included on their special day can be planed for.
Communion at Mill Hill Chapel is offered four times a year. We have a open table for communion which means that anyone is welcome to participate. You do not need to be a Unitarian, be baptised, or be a member of any church in order to receive communion at Mill Hill Chapel.
“We have a open table policy for communion which means that anyone is welcome to participate…”
In taking communion we seek to remember Jesus who, at the last supper said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 23-26). During communion those who wish to receive the bread (not wafer) and wine (usually non-alcoholic for reasons of inclusivity) are invited to come towards the front of the chapel by the minister or worship leader. Words of blessing are said and people are either served by the minister or are shown how to serve each other. Many of our members find this helpful for their spiritual health and find it helps them to feel part of a spiritually united community and thus participate.
That said, participation in communion is not a test of membership for our congregation, and no one should feel they have to take communion at Mill Hill if they do find it helpful. No one will think any less of you if you prefer not to take the bread and wine and instead participate by witnessing.